Harlequin's Slash Fic

Sublimity

Title: Sublimity
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Gaius
Category, Word count: Story; 4819 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Merlin takes care of Gaius after he is released from the dungeons.
Notes: Set immediately after episode 207 The Witchfinder.
Warnings: I kind of relaxed a little more than usual with the anachronisms!

This is a very humble offering for glimmergirl, to wish her a happy birthday.

Sublimity

Once Arthur was done dispatching orders about clearing up Aredian’s body from the paving stones at the bottom of the tower, and everyone else was at a distance or otherwise occupied, Merlin approached him. ‘Gaius’s rooms are a wreck,’ Merlin observed – and even Merlin could hear that he was being a bit too defiant.

Despite which, only someone who knew Arthur well would have even noticed the flicker of surprise, for the prince immediately lifted his chin in acknowledgement. ‘Yes.’ Arthur folded his arms, but it was only because he felt chagrined. ‘I’ll arrange for some of the household servants to start cleaning. Leon and Robert can help with shifting those bookcases –’

‘Um. Thank you. But that’s not what I meant.’ Merlin rubbed at his forehead with the heel of his hand. There was too much to organise, too much to think about. And Gaius – poor Gaius… ‘Um, maybe Gaius would want to do it himself. Or, well, be there to supervise.’ Knowing even as he said it that he was basically volunteering himself to do all the hard work. ‘But that’s not the point.’

Arthur was considering him carefully. Patiently. ‘Then the point is…?’

‘I’m taking one of the guest rooms,’ Merlin blurted out. ‘You go release him from the dungeons, do whatever you have to do – I’m going to get a bath ready. Then he’s going to spend the night in a proper bed for once. Maybe not just tonight, either. I’m going to look after him until he’s well enough to get cranky and tell me to stop fussing. And in the meantime, you can polish your own boots and have someone else fetch your breakfast for you, and – and –’ Merlin took a breath, wondering where that had come from. It had sounded far more reasonable in his head. ‘Sire,’ he added, hopefully.

Arthur’s expression hadn’t changed much, though he looked a bit pinched around the mouth. But he simply said, with a curtness that was more about efficiency than anger, ‘Of course.’

‘Oh. Thank you.’

‘Yes. Take the rooms below mine.’

‘That’s the best suite!’ Merlin protested.

‘Exactly.’ The prince began striding away, but he threw back over his shoulder, ‘Go get that bath ready, then. I’ll bring him there shortly.’

‘Oh.’ He was going to call out more thanks, but Arthur had already gone. Merlin smiled a bit, and tilted his head in surprise. And then he ran for the kitchens.

A half hour later, Merlin was pouring the last bucket of hot water into the bath which he’d placed by the fire he’d built up, when the door opened, and Gaius ­– poor dear Gaius – shuffled in, leaning on Leon’s arm. Gaius seemed dazed, wretched, relieved, angry – bewildered at where he found himself – but he brightened when he saw Merlin. Leon began escorting him over, but Merlin closed the distance at a run, and their arms went round each other as if there could never be any barriers between them ever again.

Leon waited with a pleased and patient smile, and then when Merlin finally let him go, walked with Gaius over to the chair nearest the bath, and saw him seated.

‘Where’s Arthur?’ Merlin asked, wondering what on earth could have been more important.

‘Oh, the prince said he’d –’

But Leon was saved from making excuses by the sudden appearance of said prince, slightly out of breath as if he’d been hurrying, and with his arms full of gear. Arthur glanced at Gaius and away, then frowned in concentration as he began unloading things onto the table. ‘For the bath,’ he muttered in Merlin’s direction – and Merlin could see it was salts, soaps and potions from the prince’s own stock. ‘And from my father,’ he said as he piled towels, nightshirts and robes nearby. ‘Not that I asked his permission, but he would have given it if I had.’

‘Arthur –’ Merlin started.

‘Gaius,’ the prince said briskly, turning to face the old man where he rested in the chair. ‘You’re to stay here and let Merlin take care of you. Until such time as you can’t stand it any longer. Which, knowing how useful and congenial my man servant is, won’t be very long at all. But the matter is entirely in your own hands. Merlin, there’ll be a guard at the door night and day. Tell him when you need something, and he’ll make sure you receive it. If he doesn’t, tell me.’

‘Arthur –’

‘Gaius,’ Arthur continued, ‘I’m more sorry than I can say about what has happened.’

‘Thank you, sire,’ Gaius replied with light sincerity.

Arthur,’ Merlin tried again.

But the prince nodded farewell, and turned away. Ushered Leon out before him. Had one last thought – took a key from his pocket and reached to place it on the chest of drawers near the door. ‘If you lock the door, I promise no one will disturb you.’ Arthur nodded once more, almost to himself, and walked out. The door closed behind him. Gaius and Merlin were alone.

‘Gaius…’ dear Gaius.

There was a twinkle in the old man’s eyes, bright amidst the dungeon’s grime, which certainly boded well. ‘I suppose I have you to thank for all this, do I?’

Merlin’s gaze shifted away despite himself. ‘No, we were all concerned –’

‘Merlin –’

‘Yes?’

Nothing but a fond look. Merlin went to kneel at the man’s feet, to lay his head in Gaius’s lap, to push his arms around the man’s waist. Gaius’s hands came to rest on his shoulders, and then after a while one lifted to stroke his hair. ‘Merlin…’

‘Gaius, I’m so sorry.’

‘I know. We’ll not talk of it now.’

‘No?’

‘No.’ And Gaius lightly observed, ‘That bath looks rather enticing.’

Merlin clung on for one moment longer, and then set about taking care of his dearest friend.

For someone who habitually shrouded himself in three or four layers of thick shapeless garments, Gaius seemed peculiarly unembarrassed about being stripped naked, assisted into a tub, and then scrubbed all over. As he did with Arthur, Merlin handed over the washcloth for Gaius to take care of his more private areas, but he didn’t even seem overly bothered about that. What Merlin had never dared do for Arthur was magic all the shed dirt out of the water before he started washing the man’s hair.

Gaius opened one eye and considered him with lazy contentment. ‘Where did that go?’

Merlin shrugged. ‘The rose garden, I think.’

A snuffled laugh. ‘And the filth of the dungeon will in time be transformed into fragrant pink petals. You’re a genius.’

‘No, I’m not,’ Merlin softly replied as he began massaging Arthur’s best cleansing potion into Gaius’s scalp. ‘I’ve been so utterly stupid, so very often. And this time it almost cost you your life.’

But Gaius just said, ‘Hush…’ and they were quiet for a while.

Eventually Merlin helped Gaius out of the tub, stood him by the fire, and began drying him. This time he didn’t hand over a corner of the towel, but instead rubbed everywhere himself using the kind of brisk no–nonsense affection with which he remembered Hunith treating him as a child.

Once he’d helped Gaius into a nightshirt and warm robe – the garments far finer than either of them were used to wearing – and then combed out his hair, Merlin stood back. ‘Are you tired? D’you want to go to bed? Or d’you want to sit up for a bit? Are you hungry? What would you like to do?’

‘So many questions!’ Gaius protested with a wry smile.

‘You tell me,’ Merlin said, and he promised: ‘Anything you want.’

‘That bed does appear full of welcoming charm…’

‘Bed, then.’ Merlin helped him over there, despite Gaius’s mumbled protest – he grinned, thinking Gaius mustn’t be too badly off if he was already on the verge of complaining. Once Gaius was settled on his side, and the sheets and covers were tucked in around him, Merlin perched his rear on the edge of the bed, and reached a gentle hand to stroke the long white hair. After a while, he whispered, ‘Did he hurt you?’

‘Only my heart,’ Gaius said, as if this were reassurance. ‘Oh, and my pride.’

‘Gaius…’ dear sweet Gaius.

‘He made me despair, that was the worst of it. When I thought my death would protect you, I found I could face anything. But when he told me that my death would be for naught, then… the despair almost crippled me.’

‘Gaius,’ he murmured. ‘Sweet Gaius…’

‘The thought that I wouldn’t be able to protect you, after all.’

‘Don’t!’ Merlin cried softly. ‘Stop. I never deserved any of that.’

Gaius just smiled at him. ‘Why don’t you hocus pocus yourself some more hot water, and have a bath yourself?’

Merlin found himself glancing at the other half of the bed, the empty half. The clean fresh sheets he longed to slip between. And he nodded. ‘All right.’ He went to strip off by the fireplace, keeping his gaze on the flames dancing along the logs.

He took a breath and turned around once he was naked. But any nervousness or uncertainty was immediately put to rest by the sight of Gaius’s quiet face and closed eyes. And the soft rumbling snore.

Merlin took his time with the bath, using Arthur’s best soap and then just wallowing in the warmth. Once he was fresh and dry, he pulled on one of the king’s nightshirts. It was too big, of course, but the luxurious feeling of that fine material next to his skin was worth the hassle of long sleeves and the threat of tripping over the hem.

Gaius slumbered on, and of course Merlin felt as if he himself had hardly slept for a week. So he went around to the other side of the bed, and he carefully climbed in. The mattress gave beneath him, inviting him deeper. He sighed a little, wistful. And then he shifted closer to Gaius’s broad back, curled up into his warmth, felt the man’s peace flow through him, calming him. And he slipped away into sleep.

They woke late that afternoon, both stretched out long, but with Merlin tucked into Gaius’s side, his face pressed up against his shoulder. They laughed in sheer delight at the joy to be had from a good mattress and fine sheets, and from a warm body nearby. Merlin got up, and helped Gaius sit up against all the massed pillows. ‘You must be hungry,’ Merlin said. ‘They hardly even feed you down there – I know that myself!’

Gaius tilted his head in a quibble. ‘Food was the last thing on my mind. But I could manage a little something now.’

‘Good, cos I’m ravenous!’ Merlin declared. So he put his head out the door, and asked the guard for food.

Within a miraculously brief time they were served as if they were real guests of the court who actually belonged in the best suite, with platters of fruit, meat and cheese, the kind of bread that even Arthur rarely saw, and jugs of cool water and fragrant wine. They ate on the bed, Gaius doing as much justice to the spread as Merlin did, until they were both grasping for the last fig – with a vigour that became a mock wrestling match, which Merlin won – though he immediately peeled the fruit and fed it to Gaius piece by piece, until the last which Gaius took from him and popped into Merlin’s mouth instead.

They both lay back for a while, sated, Gaius within the bed, and Merlin sprawled back across it at Gaius’s feet. Merlin said, ‘I didn’t think to bring any of your books. I could go fetch some. I was thinking that I could read to you. Or maybe you’d just like to read to yourself for a while.’

‘That would have been nice, you reading to me.’

Merlin sat up. ‘Tell me what you want to hear, and I’ll go fetch it. As long as it’s not about anatomy.’

‘No, it’s too much trouble.’

‘Nothing’s too much trouble for you, Gaius. Not today.’ Merlin smiled at him. ‘You might as well take advantage of me while you can!’

Gaius looked at him steadily for a moment, but then couldn’t restrain a quirk of his mouth. ‘Then you can’t possibly think I would want you to get dressed, let alone venture out down those cold corridors, across that freezing courtyard… I’d much rather you stayed here. With me. In the warmth.’

Merlin collapsed back again across the bed with a sigh of great satisfaction. ‘Me, too.’

‘In any case, if we get bored tomorrow, we can send the guard for some books.’

‘Absolutely.’

Gaius yawned, and stretched out his arms, rolled his shoulders back. ‘Perhaps it’s time for a nap,’ he suggested.

‘My thoughts exactly.’ Merlin chuckled. Every day should be like this. He got up onto his hands and knees, and crawled further up the bed to help sort out the pillows. Then, as Gaius settled himself, Merlin wriggled down between the sheets. ‘Sleep well, Gaius,’ he said on a contented sigh.

‘Sleep well, my dear.’

And Merlin drifted off.

When he drifted back again, he found that they were cuddled up together, and their heads were sharing a pillow on Merlin’s side of the bed. Night had crept up on them, and there was a warm glow from the fire on one side of the room, and a cool glow of moonlight on the other, but otherwise all was dark.

Gaius was still, and for a long while Merlin thought he must be asleep – but then eventually Merlin realised that the man was too still to actually be asleep. It was as if Gaius was holding himself carefully, not wanting to disturb Merlin. Not wanting to withdraw, yet not permitting himself to reach.

Merlin sighed a little, not discontentedly, and stretched, wriggled. So very glad to feel a warm body close beside his own. ‘Sweet Gaius,’ he murmured on another sigh. ‘Sweet darling Gaius.’

‘Merlin, my dear…’ Gaius murmured in reply, his face still hidden. ‘I’m sure you don’t mean to, but you are waking feelings within me that have slumbered undisturbed for many a long year.’

‘Good,’ he blurted. ‘I’m glad.’

‘Oh, my dear…’

Merlin sat up, curling his legs underneath himself, feeling clumsy. Shrugged off the nightshirt so that he was naked. Then he looked down at his friend, and met his gaze directly. ‘What shall we do?’

A hand settled gently on his forearm. ‘Just lie with me, my sweet boy. If you can bear it, just be so good as to lie with me.’

‘I can bear it,’ he muttered recklessly, as he stretched out again at Gaius’s side, and they took each other into their arms.

After a while Gaius pressed a kiss into Merlin’s hair – and no doubt that would be all he’d do, unless Merlin encouraged him, for Gaius declared, ‘Yes, you are awakening my poetic feelings.’

Merlin snorted. ‘Poetic…?’

Gaius’s eyebrow raised to haughty heights. ‘What did you think I meant?’

He grinned cheekily, figuring he wasn’t actually wrong about any of this. ‘Nothing.’

‘I have been lying here wondering what rhymes with sublimity.’

‘You’re calling me sublime?’

‘It does seem rather unlikely, doesn’t it? As I recall, the definition runs something like, of such excellence or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.’

Merlin snorted another laugh – though, naturally enough, he would have given almost anything to have someone think such wildly unreasonable things of him.

‘The dungeons must have unhinged my wits.’

‘So you haven’t found a rhyme?’

‘There’s nubility, obviously. You are so very nubile.’

‘Isn’t that what they say about girls…?’

‘The principle applies,’ Gaius argued.

‘Huh!’ He pretended to take great offence.

‘And one should of course mention your uniquity.’

‘My iniquity?!’

‘But ultimately, I think… Merlinity. Yes, your sweet tender Merlinity…’

‘Gaius –’

Your unique sublime Merlinity…

‘Oh…’ he moaned.

‘I’m a fool,’ the man declared, ‘and what’s worse, a very old fool who should know better.’

‘Gaius! My darling Gaius…’ And Merlin pressed close, and kissed the man.

They clutched at each other, mouthing ravenously – Merlin too clumsy and Gaius too overwhelmed, and yet it was spectacular enough. Wanting more, Merlin soon pushed over to lie half atop his friend, then let his hand run down Gaius’s side to his hip and then his thigh, began gathering the fabric of the long nightshirt so that it eased slowly up Gaius’s legs.

‘My dear,’ Gaius protested with quiet regret. His own hand settled on Merlin’s and the bunched up material, forbidding him from going any further.

Merlin set his jaw mulishly, and sent a tendril of magic down to the hem of the nightshirt, curled it under and then back up, so that it wound its way along Gaius’s skin.

‘Oh!’ cried Gaius in surprise.

The tendril grew, split, went running over Gaius like strands of ivy – put down blindly–seeking rootlets, burst into little explosions of flowers against him, swelled into provocative berries which popped…

‘Merlin…’

‘Mmm? You’re not gonna to tell me to stop. Are you?’

‘No,’ said Gaius, opening his eyes and looking at Merlin with surprisingly earnest reason. ‘I’m going to ask if you’ve locked the door.’

Merlin grinned cheekily. ‘Don’t wanna be caught having sex with me?’

That I could live with, though no one would believe you could so indulge me. But I’d rather not be caught having magic with you.’

His smile fell. ‘Gaius…’ he whispered. Behind him, the key lifted from the chest of drawers apparently of its own accord, unerringly found the lock, slotted in, and turned.

‘Very clever,’ Gaius said.

‘Let’s see what else I can do…’

For a while he lay close over Gaius, shifting up against him, pressing up against him rhythmically, kissing and kissing, whispering spells and endearments, while his magic crept and wound and explored its way across every inch of Gaius’s skin, and occasionally it flickered over Merlin, too, provoking him, tempting him, and he hardly even needed that anyway because it had been so very long since anyone had let him move against them or even kiss them, and he needed this, oh how he needed this…

Then a contrary Merlin groaned in protest, even as he shifted up to kneel at his friend’s side. This must be for Gaius first – and second, and third – and Merlin last if at all. He let his hand form itself against Gaius’s hardness through the fine linen of the king’s nightshirt, began a gentle rub back and forth, and then concentrated his magic in swirls around Gaius’s hips, before shifting up around his waist, caressing firm enough that it didn’t tickle, and then further up still –

‘…my pectorals…’ Gaius sighed, and Merlin obliged him, twisting corded vines around the man’s nipples even while he slid leaves of cool smoke across each masculine breast. ‘…my deltoids…’

‘What are they?’ he had to ask.

One bright eye opened just far enough to peer at him in triumph. ‘D’you see what happens when you neglect your anatomy?’

Merlin chuckled, low in his throat, though his humour had been left behind a while before, overtaken by need. ‘Darling Gaius,’ he murmured on another sigh. ‘Darling wonderful Gaius.’

‘My shoulders,’ Gaius clarified with an ounce of apology in his glance.

Merlin pushed his magic up further – Gaius arched up against it – suddenly the tendrils grew hot against the pulse in Gaius’s throat, twined up into his hair to massage his scalp – and Merlin leaned forward to pin Gaius’s right shoulder with his hand, his left shoulder with the weight of a sunbeam – and his right hand grasped Gaius’s cock, wrapped around it, demanded his completion –

Merlin!’ Gaius cried fervently. ‘Merlin…’ he sobbed. Warm damp life pulsed from the man, poured from him, a balm for all hurt. ‘Merlin,’ he whispered, meeting his gaze.

‘Beautiful Gaius,’ Merlin declared from his heart. ‘So very beautiful…’

Gaius smiled wistfully. ‘Oh my dear boy. For a moment I might almost have believed that.’

‘Only a moment?’ That was the saddest thing he’d ever heard.

‘A whole moment, yes. It was miraculous.’

Merlin collapsed down to lie on his friend, to match length against length, to clutch at him with hard fingers. ‘I couldn’t let you go. You asked me to let you go, and I couldn’t do it.’

Gaius considered him calmly. ‘Perhaps next time you’ll have to.’

‘No! Never.’ He pressed his face into Gaius’s shoulder, and held him fiercely. But after a while he remembered himself, remembered the purpose of this stolen time, this borrowed room, this enforced seclusion. And Merlin relaxed a little. Softened against his friend – in all ways but one. ‘Gaius?’ he murmured.

‘Mmm…?’

‘What would you like now? Anything at all. What do you want?’

‘I want you to take your own pleasure, my sweet boy. If you can,’ he added diffidently, ‘with such a partner.’ His hands ran carefully, almost reverently down Merlin’s back.

‘Of course I can,’ he mumbled thickly. ‘If that’s what you want.’

‘If not, perhaps you would let me watch you pleasure yourself.’

‘Gaius,’ he protested in a sigh. And Merlin lifted a little, pushed the nightshirt up further, straddled Gaius’s thighs, used his knees to bring them closer together – and then plunged himself down between them. ‘Is that all right?’

‘Yes. Oh my darling, yes…’

And as Gaius’s hands shaped themselves to Merlin’s rear, he began a slow yet relentless rhythm which soon had him pouring out his seed, wriggling and pushing against this wonderful man, moaning into his kiss. ‘Is that – Is that –’

‘Yes, my darling. Yes, Merlin my dear. That was perfect.’

They woke blearily the next morning to raised voices in the corridor. It was Uther. Merlin and Gaius tensed in each other’s arms. ‘I am your king! I command you to let me enter.’

‘I’m sorry, sire,’ the guard was fearfully protesting – his armour could almost be heard rattling, for even his voice was shaking – ‘but the prince ordered me to refer any such requests to him. Even any such from you, sire.’

‘Why, you impertinent –’

Footsteps sounded firm and fast from the nearby staircase. ‘Father! I thought it best that we don’t disturb him.’ And the rest of the conversation was conducted in tones too low for words to be distinguished, but eventually Uther was persuaded to leave well enough alone, or at least be distracted by some other concern. Footsteps drifted away. Silence settled back over them.

Merlin finally dared to look at Gaius. ‘The king came to find you,’ he whispered. ‘D’you think that means he’s sorry?’

But Gaius’s mouth was set firm. ‘He may be sorry, but I am not yet ready to forgive him.’

‘Gaius! What happened when –’

‘We’ll not talk of it.’

Merlin sighed, and cuddled up closer to the man. Warmed him. But it was a while before Gaius relaxed enough to fall asleep again.

After they’d slept late, and made love again, and sent for breakfast, and eaten it together in bed, and then dozed for a while – in fact, after they were already halfway through the afternoon, Merlin asked, ‘What would you like to do now, Gaius?’

‘Perhaps we could send for a book, and you could read to me.’ Gaius hesitated a moment, before running one tentative fingertip across Merlin’s lips. ‘I love listening to you, Merlin.’

Merlin stared at him in surprise. ‘You do? That’s about the last thing I would have imagined you telling me.’

Gaius shrugged apologetically. ‘You have a lovely voice.’

‘Though you hardly ever appreciate what I say.’

A smile grew mischievous on Gaius’s lips. ‘Nevertheless, perhaps there is more than one reason why I dispute with you so often.’

Merlin laughed. ‘All right. What would you like to hear? Or doesn’t it matter what the words are?’

‘In many ways, it doesn’t – but I think perhaps… The Odyssey.’

‘Isn’t that in Latin? I can’t read Latin.’

‘Then it’s time you learned.’

Gai–us…’ he complained.

‘You said anything I wanted,’ Gaius reminded him.

‘Oh!’ Merlin protested. ‘Not that kind of anything!’

Gaius just chuckled, and looked obdurate, so Merlin dragged himself over to the door and asked the guard to see if someone couldn’t try to locate the right volume. Then the guard indicated a pile of clothes belonging to both Gaius and Merlin, waiting there obviously freshly laundered. ‘The Lady Morgana’s maid brought these.’

Merlin thanked him, and took the clothes inside, placed them on the table. As he stood there contemplating them, Gaius joined him. ‘I suppose we cannot stay here forever,’ the old man observed, though he sounded content enough that it be so.

‘You must take as long as you want,’ Merlin argued. ‘I insisted, and Arthur agreed.’

‘I know.’ Gaius looked at him very directly, yet kindly, too. ‘But we cannot hide from life, Merlin. We cannot shirk our responsibilities.’

‘Gaius. What happened with Aredian –’

‘We’ll not talk of it. Not yet.’

Merlin sighed. ‘All right.’

Soon there was a discreet knock at the door, and when he went to answer it, Merlin found Morgana there, looking tiny with an enormous book cradled in her arms. ‘Is this the right one?’ she asked quietly. Of course it was. ‘It’s such an awful mess there, Merlin,’ she continued with aching sorrow. ‘Sir Leon has done some of the heavy work already, but if Gwen and I –’

‘There’s no need,’ he assured her. ‘I’ll make a start on it tomorrow. I think Gaius will want to supervise, you know?’

She smiled fondly. ‘I do know, yes. Be sure to send for anything you need, Merlin.’

‘I will. Thank you.’

In the dark of the night, with the castle and the town and the kingdom and the country quiet around them, Merlin coaxed Gaius into such a passion that the nightshirt was at last drawn off and thrown aside, and Gaius tumbled him over onto his back and pushed inside him – and Merlin curled up, clung on, cried out – ‘Wonderful – beautiful – adorable – Gaius!’

‘Merlin…’

‘I adore you.’

‘I remember now, may all the gods save me… I remember what it was to love, to possess…’ as with each thrust his certainty grew and his intent became fiercer.

‘I am yours.’

‘You are my life, Merlin. You are the only thing I care about.’

‘Yes. Yes! Teach me about that…’

And with the most beautiful hoarse shout, Gaius pushed deeper still, and finished with a gasp and a hard quivering stillness.

Merlin sent for hot water the next morning, and they bathed – it was certainly necessary by then – and then they snuggled up to sleep again. But when Merlin finally woke, he was alone in the bed, and when he pushed himself up to his elbows, he saw Gaius sitting at the table, fully dressed and waiting for him. ‘It’s time to return,’ Gaius said, and his voice was firm despite the hints of regret.

‘But, Gaius…’

‘You’d better go see if Arthur needs you. I can’t keep you from your duties with him any longer. And I want to go back to my rooms.’

‘Your rooms are a wreck, Gaius, so much has been broken, and –’

‘I know. But I want to get back. This isn’t real life, Merlin,’ he added gently, ‘what we have shared these past days.’

‘I know,’ Merlin said with all the sorrow in his heart. He got out of the bed, clumsy again, and went to kneel by Gaius’s side. ‘I’d still be yours,’ he offered. ‘If I could.’

But Gaius shook his head. ‘You have no idea how tempting you are, my dear. But it cannot be. You are worth so much more than I can offer in return.’

‘Not if you offer me your soul – then I am nothing in comparison. Not if you offer me your heart, your –’

‘Hush…’

I’m the one who’s not worthy.’

‘Hush now,’ Gaius said, and his hand stroked Merlin’s hair. ‘I must thank you for taking care of me so very well. And, as your lover at least, I must say farewell.’

‘But not in any other sense – not as my friend, or my father, or my teacher, or –’

‘No, not in any other sense.’

‘All right,’ Merlin sighed. And he knelt up to kiss the man one last time, and then they parted. Although in many ways they never parted again. And throughout Merlin’s long life – even after Gaius had said his very last farewells – Merlin held the memory of those few days warm and safe in his heart, as some of the most precious treasure of all.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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2 responses to “Sublimity”

  1. avatar mcicioni says:

    Lovely and tender, and the bittersweet, gentle, friendly end of the interlude sounds and feels RIGHT. Particularly love Merlin’s use of magic to clean the bathwater and to enhance their irst lovemaking.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      mcicioni – Thank you again, so much, for your kind response, which again reflects my fic back to me as all I could have hoped for. You make me feel that maybe I can achieve something of what I try for, after all. ♥

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